Mission Statement - De-Spinning the Pro-Taser Propaganda

Yeah right, 'Excited Delirium' my ass...

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

The primary purpose of this blog is to provide an outlet for my observations and analysis about tasers, taser "associated" deaths, and the behaviour exhibited by the management, employees and minions of Taser International. In general, everything is linked back to external sources, often via previous posts on the same topic, so that readers can fact-check to their heart's content. This blog was started in late-2007 when Canadians were enraged by the taser death of Robert Dziekanski and four others in a short three month period. The cocky attitude exhibited by the Taser International spokespuppet, and his preposterous proposal that Mr. Dziekanski coincidentally died of "excited delirium" at the time of his taser-death, led me to choose the blog name I did and provides my motivation. I have zero financial ties to this issue.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Tasers, far too often, are a tool of abuse

The same old story. Some police force decides to purchase tasers, they all get trained and certified, and then the electro-torture and abuse of citizens starts.

Example [LINK]
Example [LINK]
...

So what is the root cause?

Does the taser electric shock, often applied to the police trainees during the taser training (always to the back where there's much less chance of cardiac death) - does it run up their spinal columns and cause brain damage? Many trained and certified officers are emerging from their taser training all "Taser Certified", but actually they've become walking-talking human rights nightmares. Something is going wrong.

This all-too-common sequence (tasers -> abuse) leads to some perfectly reasonable questions about the training.

Judged by the real-world results - Taser training is clearly defective.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Taser subtly shifts its safety claims again

As part of its carefully-planned, almost-imperceptible sneaky legal shuffle away from liability [LINK], Taser has just subtly shifted the wording of its safety claims again.

"...the taser device is not... ...unreasonably dangerous..." [LINK]


So now the taser is 'not unreasonably dangerous'.

In other words, it is dangerous - just not unreasonably so.


That's a vast change from the taser being perfectly incapable of affecting the heart in any manner whatsoever as Taser and Kroll have repeatedly claimed.


Can we all now agree that there actually is a moderate risk of DEATH from internal risk factors (such as cardiac effects) when the X26 darts actually land on the victim's chest?

Such an acknowledgment would certainly help to explain all those incidents where people have died immediately after being tasered.

I have guesstimate the odds of DEATH as being within sight of the low end of the single digit range - once all the possible external safety factors and denominator washing factors are eliminated (leaving only the inherent safety margin alone, naked, scared, and certainly not 15-to-1).

The risk certainly ain't millions-to-one as Taser and their fan-boys have tried to claim. They're obviously off by several orders of magnitude.

It's like watching a bad child shifting sideways - heels left, toes left, heels left, toes left, heels left, toes left.

Hey, where do you think you're going?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Taser's claimed safety margin of 15-to-1

Taser, and their leading brain-trust member Dr. Kroll, claim that the X26 taser has a safety margin of 15-to-1 and is therefore very, very, very safe.

Meanwhile people are being tasered and immediately dying.

But (according to Taser) those incidents don't matter - because they know that the taser is safe.


A previously-posted comparison of known and stated incapacitation levels, with a view of bypassing all the crap, indicated that perhaps the actually safety margin was closer to 2-to-1. [LINK]

If true, then this very simple sanity-check type analysis indicates that the bell curves are overlapping far more than they had anticipated (which would explain perfectly the real-world death rate when taser darts land on chests and eliminate all those increasingly-insane explanations they've been going through).

Remember the excuses used by Taser when they escaped from Ruggieri? It turns out that the excuses they used apply only to the older 1999-era M26. The newer 2003-era X26 taser current waveform has characteristics that are the opposite. [LINK]

If you watch Taser's arguments carefully over time, you will notice them wriggling like a little worm under the hot stare of a magnifying glass.

Even if we assume that the older M26 taser did actually have a 15ish-to-1 safety margin for some percentage of the population, then it seems unlikely that the same safety margin would have survived the two significant changes in frequency spectrum and (especially) in duty cycle brought by the newer X26.


I notice that neither Taser, nor any police departments, have yet accepted my challenge to have the police trainees don a face shield, turn-around, and take their training hits in the chest (the same way they're delivered on the street). The fact that all the training hits are universally delivered to the back of trainees is a clear-cut admission of the risk of chest hits.


"...15-to-1 safety margin..."

Bull!

More like 2-to-1, maybe.


Which overlaps the bell curves of 'individual susceptibilities' and the weapon itself...

...and this results in people...

... (people that in many cases did nothing to deserve death) ...

...dying.


It all fits.


A moratorium is obviously required to capture the attention of those that are ignoring these inconvenient facts, to provide time to fix the obviously-defective training, and to address the dismissed-until-now liabilities, etc. etc. etc.


And since recent studies have again indicated the counter-intuitive (to some) truth - that tasers don't necessarily make the world a safer place - there is no reason to hesitate.

Police need to be able to fully justify any gun fire. So they're not likely to start killing innocent citizens if we take away their taser torture toys long enough to educate them to the real-world dangers and risks.

Steve Tuttle stands on hind legs and speaks...

The National NAACP asked for a ban or moratorium on tasers until independent scientific research regarding their safety can be performed, according to Tony Millner Jr., president of Martinsville NAACP Branch 7089. [LINK]


From the same news story...

Steve Tuttle, vice president of media relations for Taser International, said the devices are designed to prevent the body from coordinated acts, not affect cardiac tissue. “It is not a pain compliance tool.

Fact - It actually operates way above and beyond normal pain levels. You have to trample way beyond pain compliance to get to incapacitation - but the over-the-top pain remains. Reilly estimated the pain from a taser is about 2000x more than 'intense pain'. It has been described as extreme and excruciating. I'd call it torture. You don't want to think about what some of their overseas clients are doing with their tasers in the dark dungeons.

When deployed, small barbs or darts affixed to two thin copper wires are thrust from the device.

Fact - this is only when the weapon is used in that mode. The other mode, called Drive Stun by Taser and more-accurately called Touch Torture mode by this blog, is strictly a pain compliance mode where the darts are not used and the weapon is directly applied to the subject.

One contains a positive charge, the other a negative charge.

Fact - a vast oversimplification to the point of being utterly false. But about on par with the level of technical sophistication displayed by Taser's brain trust.

As they come in contact with the body, “a very low amp” energy path is created with the goal of interrupting the “blips” or signals sent from the brain to nerves, Tuttle said.

Fact - Although Taser makes much of the average current being only about 2mA, they've redacted from their later brochures the more-indicative RMS current which they previously admitted is about 160mA. It remains an open question that perhaps they've overshot the safety limits bell curve in their quest to make a more powerful weapon.

Energy from the Taser causes muscles to contract and that is the extent of it, he said. “All the Taser is doing is taking away your ability” to perform coordinated reactions for a brief time period, Tuttle said. The sensation is over and the body returns to a normal state immediately after, he said, adding that is typically that is within five seconds for law enforcement models.

Fact - The heart is made of, and is a, muscle. Electricity can affect the heart. Taser made claims of safety for their older 1999-era M26 taser based on the current waveform being 'safe' high frequency and 'safe' low duty cycle. But then in 2003, Taser started selling the X26 where the current waveform contains significant 19 Hz low frequency and those spectral components are therefore 100% continuous duty cycle. If a person had to point at one major f-up by their design staff, this might well be it.


In summary, Mr. Tuttle's reassuring and calming words are designed to make you relax about tasers.

The more appropriate reaction is to identify his verbiage as the misleading propaganda that it actually is and continue to be very concerned.


Fact - Martinsville resident 17-year old Jones was tasered and died immediately. Sudden deaths like this are extraordinarily rare, except when tasers are involved. Then they seem to happen every few days.


It isn't rocket science folks.

The how and why of failure...

(Vocus) January 23, 2009: "...the taser deliver a high-frequency, high-voltage current..." (emphasis added).

This is an ideal opportunity to remind blog readers that the latest taser model in wide use, the X26 introduced in 2003, unlike the other previous high power taser (the M26 from 1999), has an output current waveform that contains a significant 19 Hz (low frequency) component.

It seems that everyone on both sides of the taser issue continues to assume that tasers are strictly (the safer) high frequency - but it is not true in the case of the X26 due to an often-overlooked DC-offset pulse after the arc phase.

This also has huge implications for the duty cycle - the low frequency component at 19 Hz and all related harmonics are 100% continuous duty cycle for the entire 5-second cycle.

So the X26 is both low frequency and 100% continuous duty cycle - both of which reduce safety independently (double effect) as compared to the older M26 (invalidating many older studies, as well as invalidating many of Taser's previous explanations for the root of their product's claimed safety).

Based on Taser's and Kroll's continued reliance on the "short duty cycle" (sic) and "chronaxie" (ditto) for their safety assumptions, and that they've apparently never admitted that the duty cycle of the X26 at 19 Hz is 100% continuous, it really seems like they forgot about the basics of Fourier transforms and the significant impact of that little DC pulse that they added to the X26 in 2003.

If they really do fail to understand why their 'harmless little taser' (sic) might be more dangerous than they previously calculated, then perhaps ignorance of Fourier is the reason why.

Even Kroll's late-2007 IEEE Spectrum article was still talking about "chronaxie" which depends on short pulses. This indicates that he failed to grasp that important detail.

It's another smoking gun (we've found others).

This important technical detail has, as far as I know, not been highlighted anywhere except on this blog.

See para 2 of this post 2008 - a year in review... [LINK] for an overview and links to the earlier posts where this technical details were first noted.

Then see the following three key posts:

Forgetting Fourier are we ? [LINK]

Guesstimated Spectrograms [LINK]

Up to end-September 2008 [LINK] (*)

(* Note the steep rise in the monthly taser-associated North American death rate, almost a step function, from less than one/month to about seven/month, starting in mid-2003 - strangely coincidental with the introduction of the X26.)

My conclusions about the spectrum and duty cycle implications of the little DC pulse added to the X26 taser can be reviewed and confirmed by any electrical engineer.

Madness in Martinsville

17-year old Derrick Jones was tasered after Officer R.L Wray responded to the scene and saw evidence of what he believed was a home invasion. The officer entered the duplex and heard someone in its kitchen. He asked the person to come out so he could speak to him. Jones came out of his kitchen "and moved rapidly toward" Wray "in an offensive stance," according to a city news release. The teenager also made comments that were "not too kind" to the officer, Chief Rogers has said. Wray deployed his Taser on the teenager, who then was subdued on the floor and handcuffed, police have said. Wray then dealt with another male teenager on the porch, whom he took into custody. When Wray returned to the 17-year-old who had been tasered, he found him dead. Witnesses later said no home invasion took place. [LINK]

My interpretation of these factoids:

Jones was in his own house (as reported elsewhere).

A totally ill-informed and perhaps over-zealous police officer barges in and starts yelling.

Jones probably responds in the expected manner, 'WTF you doing in my house?' (it's what I'd probably say) and perhaps places his hands on his hips (a.k.a. the world famous 'aggressive stance' so feared by police).

Officer Wray, having been completely brainwashed about how perfectly safe tasers are, zaps him without hesitation.

And young Jones dies almost immediately. (Gee - I wonder why?)


Conclusion - You're not even safe in your own house.


Forget about generating terrorism overseas. This sort of crap generates more of those nut-bar right-wing loons that arm themselves to the teeth and live in 'compounds' to protect themselves from the police.

One can almost understand their point - even if we don't agree with it.


Chief Rogers has said that Officer Wray was within his department’s procedures ... regarding the process of barging into people's own houses, barking orders and zapping teenagers dead with tasers that everyone knows are safe.


I apologize if anyone feels that my comments are not too kind.

And please forgive my aggressive stance on this topic.

But facts are facts - police killed a 17-year old kid in his own house.

With a taser.

What are we supposed to think?


Police say there are a number of factors that could have killed Jones – anything from pre-existing medical conditions to any kind of drug or alcohol abuse. [LINK]

But not the damn taser? Anything but the taser.

And so the cover-up and misdirection begins.

And nobody can explain why the taser might be more dangerous than the maker calculates.

Forgetting Fourier are we? [LINK]

In-custody Deaths INCREASE 6x with tasers

The study, published in the American Journal of Cardiology, analyzed data received from 50 police departments and found that in the first year tasers were used, sudden deaths increased six fold. ...

Dr. Zian Tseng, assistant professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco and one of the study’s co-authors ... suggests that officers should have a defibrillator available should a suspect suddenly collapse after being tasered and that officers should hesitate before using the tasers at all.

But if they are forced to use them, Tseng says that officers should avoid tasering suspects in the chest and pull the trigger as few times as possible.
[LINK]


In other words, Taser's continuing claim that tasers cannot possibly affect the heart are not accepted by all experts in the field of medicine.


So obviously, given these clear-cut findings, the self-styled Institute for Prevention of In-Custody Deaths (a strange little outfit with many indirect connections to Taser and some ethically-challenged direct links to Taser's hired help) will get right on this and provide serious advice about being more careful with those obviously dangerous tasers?

Yeah - dream on.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

'We don't like brown people....we have a taser.'

Joke of the Day: Officer motions for motorist to open their car window. Motorist complies. Officer asks, "Good afternoon. Do you know why I pulled you over today?" Motorists offers, "Perhaps it's because you got straight 'D's all through high school?" Sorry. It's just a joke and it certainly does not apply to very many officers.

But when you read yet another news story about a group of knuckle-headed off-duty police officers getting all drunk, stupid, and racist, it makes you wonder.

This time it is not drunk Halifax police in Digby, NS. This time it's slice-of-life morons-in-blue in the Vancouver area.

They said 'We don't like brown people. ... We are the police. You don't need help. If you don't behave … we have a taser.' ...

Three off-duty officers were arrested by Vancouver police as a result of the altercation. The officers belong with the West Vancouver, New Westminster and Delta police departments.
[LINK]


Did three drunk off-duty police officer really have a taser in their possession?

If they did, then they MUST be sentenced to something like two years in prison if The Rule of Law is to survive in Canada. Seriously! If these twits really were packing a taser under these circumstances, then they must go directly to jail, and do not pass Go, and do not collect $200.

And that's in addition to all the other criminal charges that must be brought.

Even those in the law enforcement community must agree with this self-obvious conclusion (assuming they take their oath more seriously than their misplaced loyalty to those so-called 'brothers' that would besmirch what little remains of the tattered reputation of policing in Canada).

It's simple: If these slimeballs walk, then this country is doomed. It's that serious.


Next think about the old maxim. If you walk past a haystack and happen to spot three needles, then it's very likely that the haystack contains many more than just three needles.

So obviously, in any group of seemingly fine up-standing brave and dedicated police officers, we apparently have some percentage of idiots that are weekend drunks and closet racists, ready-to-abuse the innocent, walking talking human rights nightmares.

Since the police system is obviously incapable of weeding them out, then they're out there even now.

Hundreds.

Thousands?

And armed with their police-state wetdream weapon, tasers.

And almost certainly more than willing to press charges against their victims as legal cover for their abusive behaviour.

Do you see the problem?

Honestly, good old fashioned guns have a certain seriousness attached to them that taser torture toys lack. Police guns have not really ever been an on-going problem in Canada.

Tasers in this environment are an obvious problem.

Innocent people will be tortured for the amusement of not-yet-detected racist thugs-in-blue, and then those innocent people will be criminally charged as legal cover. And we'll never know about the real story unless it just so happens that an unnoticed camera was across the street.

The only soultion is an immediate taser moratorium until the training and accountablility and ethical standards are brought up to modern standards.

Welcome to the REAL world

First study to test real-world effects of stun gun use raises questions about safety

See [LINK] and the Truth...Not Tasers blog [LINK].

I told you that 2009 would be 'an interesting year' (in the Ancient Chinese Curse sense) for Taser.


I'm not sure if it's really the very "first" study regarding these questions. Look at this post [LINK] for my 30-minute 'study' (I know, I know...) about what happened in Canada during late 2007. This was the period when the Canadian police eventually figured out that the public was totally outraged that they had killed Mr. Dziekanski with the taser, and the police were forced to scale-back their real-world taser spree. Once they stopped being associated with so many people dying-while-tasered (four in two months), it was as if peace broke out (from the viewpoint of either side).

My duh-obvious conclusion at the time was that tasers appeared to associated with people dying. And when the tasers were (more) holstered during the first half of 2008, nothing bad happened. Even the police were safer it turns out. Facts are facts.

But perhaps it was all just a strange coincidence...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Tasers falling out of favour on the left coast too

Addendum to previous post:

"Vancouver police fired the taser 27 times in 2008 and pointed it 36 times... The VPD's use of the weapon in 2008 was markedly lower than in 2007 (74 times), 2006 (93) and in 2005 (66). No reason was provided for the decrease." [LINK]


Hmmm... I wonder why the taser use dropped off after, say, around about mid-October 2007?

Taser-associated deaths in Vancouver [LINK]
5. Roman Andreichikov, 25 – Vancouver, BC - May 1, 2004 - X26
7. Robert Bagnell, 44 – Vancouver, BC - June 23, 2004 - X26
17. Robert Dziekanski, 40 - Vancouver, BC - October 14, 2007 - RCMP - taser was found to be a contributing factor in death

You don't have to be a friggen Einstein to work out the reason for the decrease. Duh. Another unfortunate death. But with a cellphone camera capturing the truth. Official lies exposed. Public reaction. Political reaction.

You watch - next time they'll start by tasering the witnesses holding cellphone cameras.

Taser use dropping in some regions?

Orlanda, FL - 2005: 337, 2008: 278
Orange County, CA - 2005: 403, 2008: 349
[LINK]

Why the drop-off?

Maybe... "I thought you said these damn things were safe!" ???

Recent study is example of GIGO

"...The three-year study by Wake Forest University's medical school found no links between tasers and fatal heart attacks ... Of the 1,201 cases studied, two people died; but those deaths were attributed to a combination of prolonged struggles, drug abuse and pre-existing medical conditions." [LINK] & [LINK]

And so in conclusion, if you take a data set where there are two deaths, and you're in an environment where any taser-associated deaths are attributed to anything (such as being overweight, or having a pre-existing heart condition) anything except the taser, then the circle is complete.

GIGO = Garbage In, Garbage Out.

Fact - Coroners have repeatedly found that tasers have contributed to deaths. I've seen some reports that the number of such findings is 30+, other reports indicate 50-ish. And this in spite of the campaign to prevent such findings.

Fact - Taser still bears a judgment for an alternative blood pH death mechanism. The judgment was reduced (for purely legal technicality reasons) from $6.2M to something in the six figure range, but the judgment seems unlikely to be overturned.

The only real question raised by this circular study is if there are any undeclared connections from any of these researchers back to Taser. Wake Forest University does seem to have a peculiarly strong interest in tasers for some reason. Hey, I'm just asking!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Tasered while teen

For a combination of personal and technical reasons, I've not been blogging as much recently as I have in the past. The technical issue are now completely solved, so I should be able to pick-up the pace a bit.

Let's catch-up on some recent news:

The Truth...Not Tasers blog reports [LINK] that the young woman that was tasered in her own bedroom has been found guilty (upon appeal by the Crown) of assault against the police. Those being the very same police that had invaded her bedroom - where she had committed no crime until these police barged in. She is being sent back to the lower court for sentencing (a $1 fine should be sufficient).

Meanwhile, 17-year-old Derrick Jones mysteriously (sic) and coincidentally (sic) died on January 15th after being tasered by a Martinsville, Virgina police officer. Jones was in his own home at the time. [LINK] Obviously there's no connection between him being tasered and being found dead moments later. Young teens drop dead all the time - right?


The combination of these two news stories is disturbing. You can cogitate all you want - but there is simply no solution...

...except a moratorium.

A moratorium would solve quite a few problems all at once.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Maryland police 'terrorizing' citizens

This story is not directly related to tasers - but it might make you think about things that relate directly to tasers...


CBC News (*) - ... Maryland State Police ... didn't even need to look overseas for their targets. They found their terrorists right here, in the Quaker halls, churches, campuses, community centres and neighborhood gathering spots of the most prosperous state in the union. Oppose the death penalty? Must be a terrorist. Oppose the Iraq war? Terrorist. Anti-abortion? Interested in human rights? Opposed to government policy in general? Terrorist, terrorist, terrorist. ...

Read the full story here: [LINK]


Hmmm...

Read this [LINK] previously posted commentary about the dangers when linear spectrums becoming circles and good becomes evil.

Bingo.

MD State Police have crossed the line.


Post title should be interpreted as meaning that they're labeling innocent citizens as terrorists. They're not actually terrorizing anyone, except in the sense of calling citizens terrorists.

(* I've highlighted the CBC News in pink already so as to save the Extremist Right Wingers nut-jobbers the effort of calling the CBC '...some sort of Canadian commie pinko propaganda machine... blah blah blah...' It's not true of course, although the CBC certainly are slightly left of center. But overall they're not very far from the middle.)

Man starts to saw off own head, saved by taser

About four months ago, I posted an observation regarding the public relations (PR) antics of various police forces. The post was entitled:

Police: Man starts to chew off own head, saved by taser [LINK]


In today's news, police in North Wales tasered an 89-year-old man (yes, 89 years old) because he was about to cut off his own head (or slice his neck) with a shard of glass. Luckily, he survived the tasering. [LINK] [LINK]

One has to wonder. I suppose back the the days before tasers were invented, there would have been no other options except to shoot the old guy. [Sarcasm in case you didn't catch it.]

Yep - 89 years old.


Speculation: It seems highly likely that the police officers could have simply tossed the taser (or ANYTHING at all) towards the elderly man and then, while he was distracted, rushed in and grabbed his arm. You know, like trained police officers have been doing for the past 400 or so years.

If true in this case, then the headlines should read:

Tasers replace common sense - elderly man happens to survive

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Missing the point...

Martinsville Police Chief Mike Rogers perhaps misses the point.

He says that the police officer’s use of a taser, while trying to subdue a teen on Thursday (who dies very mysteriously), was within the department’s procedures. [LINK]

Yeah - but perhaps those procedures were cut-and-paste from Taser's propaganda. Perhaps those procedures are based upon an assumption that tasers carry zero risk of internal risk factors that might lead to death. Perhaps the legal system has temporarily forgotten that you take your victims as you find them, and that pre-existing medical conditions, drugs and being drunk are all common in the real world of day-to-day policing. Perhaps those procedures need to be amended to jive with the real world risk of people that did not deserve to die, are being killed while being arrested.

Think about it. Perhaps you've been sold a bill of goods when it comes to the purported safety. Follow the news?

Taser's seeming liability deathwish

Man, you really need to question the brain power of these guys.

This is just a few days after the tragic BART incident [LINK] [LINK] [LINK] [LINK] where a man, already arrested and restrained, was shot to death by police while lying on the platform. Some are suggesting that perhaps the officer in question got confused by his world-class Taser Training and pulled the trigger on his gun, forgetting that he wasn't actually holding his taser. This explanation seems unlikely for various reasons, but all the alternate explanations seem to be even less likely (or more distasteful). So perhaps this gun-taser mixup is the real explanation...

It's not the first time: "...Reports of police officers mistaking a handgun for a stun gun are rare, but not unheard of. In 2006, a sheriff's deputy in Washington state accidentally shot and wounded a disturbed man after mistakenly using his .40-caliber gun instead of his stun gun. ..." [LINK]

Now, just days later, and the future-tragic irony escaping them, Taser is showing off their latest creation - a combination taser and shotgun. [LINK]

[Shakes head in disbelief...]

Liability is sometimes about being aware of a risk and then disregarding it.

Attention Taser - In case you didn't think it through, this combination taser+shotgun will (absolutely positively) lead to tragic deaths when the officer pulls the wrong trigger. Consider yourself having been made aware of this risk. You're therefore potentially partially liable for any subsequent deadly mix-ups. Companies have been bankrupted by much more subtle design errors than this. And this design concept is a sure-fire recipe for tragedy.

Attention Regulators - This sort of combination lethal/(slightly)less-lethal weapons need to be banned immediately. It's a case where you can just see it coming from a million miles away. There is no imaginary universe where this sort of combo gadget will not lead directly to accidental deaths. Ban them. Now.

Attention Police Procurement Officials - Don't even think about it. Stupid is as stupid does.

Do the math...

Taser and their fan boys claim that the taser is essentially perfectly safe (other than external risks such as 'falling down and banging head').

Some Taser fan-boy idiots have 'calculated' (sic) or promoted the idea that the risk of death from internal factors is either 'zero', or 'one-in-millions'.

I believe that these claims of near-perfect safety are full of crap.


Let's examine the available data in the case of the city of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

A recent investigation into the Access To Information process requested "all reports prepared by police officers in 2007 and 2008 after their use of tasers." Reportedly, there were 150 taser incidents in Winnipeg during the time in question. [LINK]

But we need to adjust for the denominator washing. (Actually we don't need to, but it's a moderately large factor and we'll be closer if we take a stab at adjusting it out.) Here's what I mean: Not all taser incidents are dangerous. If a police officer holds up his taser and triggers it to emit a spark in order to threaten the subject, then no reasonable person would claim that such a taser display carries any direct and significant risk. Also, it seems reasonable to assume that a taser applied in Touch Torture mode to an extremity, or anywhere such that the current doesn't pass in the area of vital organs or pathways, is probably much safer than full-on taser shocks to the chest.

Without complete access to all the information, it is not possible to make very accurate estimates, but rough guesses are completely possible. Let's assume that one-third of these taser 150 incidents in Winnipeg involved full-on taser hits to the chest. That makes roughly 50 full-on taser hits to the chest during the two year period. We'll take the full two year period - perhaps it should be some other period (perhaps more, perhaps less).

You can pick your own number of you don't like mine.

And Winnipeg has had one taser-associated death: Michael Langan, age 17, Winnipeg, MB - on July 22, 2008.

1/50 = ~2%

This result is in the same ball-park as previous estimates that I've made. They're all in the low end of the single digit range. 3%, 5%, 2%. For a rough guess, these are all in the same ball-park.

So we can conclude that a full-on taser hit is not very 'high risk'. But since we're talking about life-and-death, it's fair to call it a moderate risk (of death!) when all external risk reduction factors don't enter into the equation, and all the misleading denominator washing is removed.

Now obviously, if the taser was really replacing the gun, then a 2% risk of death is far better than a ~100% risk of death.

But since tasers are used roughly 100 times as often a police have historically used their guns (for example, do you really think that the Winnipeg police would be shooting 150 citizens dead every two years - geesh...), then we have a major problem...

Taser: 2% risk times 100 use-ratio = 200
Gun: Almost 100% risk times unity = 100

Annoyingly - CBC previously reported that police gunfire was not even reduced by tasers anyway. So it's actually 100 + 200 = 300 if you catch my drift.


Obviously those claims of near-perfect safety (with respect to internal risk factors) are simply not true. They're not even close. They're off by several orders of magnitude.

Unless you still cling to the belief that all these taser-associated deaths are simply coincidental deaths. And those 50-odd coroners that attributed partial cause to the taser were wrong. And that case where Taser was found 15% responsible for the death is wrong. And that the Earth is flat...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

It only takes one...

It only takes a single counter-example to prove that a claim is false.

The Truth...Not Tasers blog is reporting [LINK] the case of yet-another 17-year old young male that died after immediately being tasered. Of course it could just be a coincidence. Just like all the other examples where healthy, drug-free young men fail to survive their arrest when tasers are involved.


Taser, and their leading brain-trust guy Kroll, claim that the taser is simply incapable of affecting the subject's heart or any other internal risk factors. They've based this claim on complex arguments that boil-down to the taser waveform's supposed very short duty cycle. The taser's current output is supposedly off much more than it is on.

But I've already demonstrated [LINK] that the most-recent taser, the X26 taser released in 2003, has a waveform that contains a significant 19 Hz low frequency component (due to an apparently misunderstood DC pulse) which leads to the conclusion that the duty cycle of this waveform is continuous 100% duty cycle for the entire 5 second duration (or longer if the officer chooses to hold the trigger down). This simple analysis indicates that the entire basis of Taser's claim of safety is untrue.

So we should not be surprised that some people react to being tasered, by dying.

It only takes one example to prove that Taser's claims cannot be true. They've already had legal judgments against them.

But they continue to act as if their claims are true.


And the training is still based on this false premise of utter safety (for internal risk factors).


Therefore - logically - there should be a moratorium until Taser admits to the internal risk factors related to the X26's low frequency continuous 100% duty cycle waveform, compensates those that have been affected (which may bankrupt Taser - too bad), and they update the training to include a discussion of the real world risks.

And then all those that have been trained, especially all the so-called experts, are retrained and tested to ensure that the brainwashing has been fully removed.

More on our old friend...

Bernie Kerik was on Taser's Board of Directors for several years. He made millions of dollars for his advice and guidance during his tenure.

Mr. Kerk is currently facing criminal charges that could result in him being sentenced for up to 142 years in prison [update: now facing only 28 years [LINK]]. And it is not the first time he's been accused of wrong-doing.

Here is yet-another story about Mr. Kerik: [LINK] If true, then yuck.


Commentary:

Sometimes it seems like there is a natural tendency for a linear spectrum to bend into a circle.

For example, Stalin and Hitler were supposedly at opposite ends of the left-right political spectrum, but there really wasn't much to distinguish between them - they were both evil murderous thugs. And I've already noted that some extremist right-wing self-proclaimed 'law-and-order' folks are the first ones to break the law. Or certain US presidents that will shred the US Constitution to 'protect' the citizenry. Or those that will be too quick launch a war to 'help maintain peace' (it often applies to both sides). And every now and then we see examples where the very top figures in law enforcement get all tangled-up with mob bosses (not mentioning any names... ahem...).

That's the big problem with being an extremist. If the line bends into a circle, then it becomes far too easy for one to cross the line and become exactly what you dislike. Examples: Those fighting for peace cause riots that lead to death. Those that think that they're working to protect their country, become the country's worst enemy. Law enforcers become law breakers.

One sees this happening all the time.

Personally, I'm an extremist moderate. I stay as far away from either end of the spectrum as I possibly can. Hopefully it helps to keep me from crossing the line too often.

What's been going on lately?

More of the same.

Except I notice that there are many more stories being published each time a taser is used to make an arrest. It's almost as if the police forces of North America have undertaken a pro-taser PR campaign to highlight each time someone is arrested and a taser is involved.

Unfortunately for the pro-taser folks, many of the taser news stories prove (for example) the point that tasers have almost nothing to do with replacing lethal force.

There are a brazillion examples, here's one:

Norfolk, VA - ...Lawyers for the Hula Hoop Lady of Granby Street (Pamela Brown) filed a lawsuit in Norfolk Circuit Court, seeking $5 million in damages against Officer Nicholas Parks. The lawsuit says Parks violated Brown's civil rights and used excessive force during the incident. The officer used a Taser to shock Brown while attempting to arrest the slightly-built woman. [LINK]

Taser-related Quote of the Week: City Attorney Bernard Pishko said, "We're not defending it as best practice..."

No sh_t Einstein.

Hey, I'll be happy to defend the incident as an example of a typical application of the taser. Which is to say, misuse, overuse and abuse. Tasers are used about 100x as often as guns ever were. Which by itself is more than sufficient information to lead decision makers to put a moratorium in place until the obviously-bad training is fixed.